Since 2014 Tesla has been banned from selling under its factory direct model in Michigan, and applications for dealer licensing in state could reportedly be just to test the state’s new rules, not so much with intent to open up a dealership to sell its products.
This news comes via Autoblog which along with The Detroit News received a reply from Tesla in regard to a November 2015 application for a Class A dealership license which would involved a full sales and service traditional style dealership.
“As recently amended, current Michigan law prohibits Tesla from being able to license its own sales and service operations in the state,” said Tesla. “Submission of the application is intended to seek the Secretary of State’s confirmation of this prohibition. Once confirmed, Tesla will review any options available to the Company to overturn this anti-consumer law.”
What legal or otherwise options it might review are undisclosed, but Tesla has in other instances made it very clear it does not believe in the traditional dealer model.
Its application is further unusual in that typically a third party business interest is expected to apply, not the manufacturer itself as Tesla has done.
According to The Detroit News, where things stand at present is Michigan’s secretary of state is reviewing Tesla’s applications for licenses to sell and service its vehicles and “in the next month or two” a decision is expected.
If the applications are actually approved, Tesla could have right to start buying and selling vehicles in state under state license, but as mentioned, if denied, Tesla will have options to sue or pursue other action.
Further, Tesla’s own communication indicates it wants to “review any options” to “overturn this anti-consumer law” indicating battle lines are being drawn.
Tesla’s standoff in Michigan, home turf of domestic automakers, is just one of several conflicts of one form or fashion the embattled California company has contended with over the years.
It has won some and lost some tests of will, and on its side at the moment, the Federal Trade Commission in May sent a 10-page letter to the Michigan Legislature asking it to reconsider its decision.
The FTC described a case of “protectionism” that did not serve the best interests of consumers. Tesla meanwhile in December said it has over 400 Michigan customers who’ve had to travel to Ontario to take delivery of a new Tesla.
Aside from that, the closest Tesla stores are in Chicago, Indianapolis and Ohio.